By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The glass bottles and jars gathering in the garage for recycling may as well be tossed in the trash.
Effective immediately, the Bowling Green Recycling Center is no longer accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County.
It was just last month that a citizen spoke in front of Bowling Green City Council, challenging the body to do more to encourage greater recycling in the city – including more efforts to save glass from being landfilled.
Years ago, the recycling center ceased taking glass in curbside bins, but continued to accept it at its drop-off site. But on Tuesday, the officials at the recycling center said that practice was over.
“We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” said Ken Rieman, of the recycling center. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.”
The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship the glass, for which it was paid $25 a ton. Late last year, the Dayton company raised its shipping costs to $40 a ton, and cut its payments to $10 a ton.
The BG center then found a company in Sylvania to take the glass at no cost.
However, that agreement ended abruptly, leaving the Dayton site as the only option, Rieman said.
“It’s simple economics,” he said, estimating the center shipped out 350 to 400 tons of glass a year. “We’ve been handling it at zero dollars. We carried it as long as we can – and probably longer than we should have.”
The Wood County Commissioners were asked to subsidize the glass recycling, since the county solid waste district operates satellite recycling sites throughout the county.
The county declined.
“Unfortunately, it’s a losing proposition,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. “We don’t see this as a wise use of money.”
Kalmar said the end to glass recycling wasn’t unexpected. “We probably all thought it eventually would happen.”
The abrupt end did, however, come as a surprise to Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards.
“I expressed my deep disappointment and concern to the county,” Edwards said Tuesday evening.
“I understand the bigger picture. I understand the rationale,” the mayor said. But ending the program without advanced notice was just not right. “It’s entirely wrong.”
The city has worked hard to create a strong recycling program, so “this is very disturbing,” he said. Edwards was particularly perturbed because he serves on the Wood County Solid Waste Management District Board, and he received no forewarning. He found out through an email. “Nobody even picked up the bloody phone,” the mayor said.
Edwards has instructed the city’s assistant administrator to check into other options, possibly by working with Bowling Green State University or an environmental recycling group in the region.
Rieman stressed that the decision was purely economic, and if glass weren’t dropped it could jeopardize the entire recycling program.
“It puts the rest of the operation at risk,” he said.
Rieman said other communities are feeling the same pressure. “This decision has been made by other communities earlier.”
He vowed that if the market changes, the recycling center would return to accepting glass.
Bill DenBesten, chairman of the BG Recycling Center Inc., stressed that all other items will continue to be recycled – aluminum and steel cans, plastic bottles, scrap metal, cardboard, newspaper, office paper, magazines and books.
Customers are being encouraged to switch to alternates, such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles.
“In addition to remaining locally recyclable, their reduced weight results in fewer trucks on the road, carrying products from manufacturer to the store and from the recycling center back to the manufacturer,” DenBesten stated.
Loyal customers, the Wood County Solid Waste District and NAT Transportation which provided glass transportation at cost, enabled local glass recycling to exist for the last 40 years, DenBesten said.
“Without everyone’s help, glass would not have survived for as long as it has,” he said.